Our First 13.1

It has been exactly two weeks since J and I ran our very first half marathon – the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Indianapolis on May 4th.  Apparently it’s like the biggest half marathon in the country.  That’s pretty freaking cool.

So we took the plunge and signed up on February 28.  That gave us just over two months to train like badasses.  And train we did.

In December when my treadmill arrived, I could barely jog for five minutes.  By the end of February, I was back up to 4 miles.  Then by the middle of April, I completed 12 without needing to walk.  It’s amazing how our body responds to conditioning.  And J?  He whipped out 6.5 miles right after signed up.  And then he also slowly built up to 9.5 miles.  He had time constraints that I didn’t have because he ran during his work day.  We figured he was fine if he could go that far.

We knew this would be a slow race.  I feel absolutely no motivation to run myself ragged.  I enjoy a decent jog and my lungs start feeling awful when I pick up speed.  It’s just not worth it.  So I made J promise to go slowly with me.  He’s a great husband.  He does his cardio between 6.0-7.0.  I do mine at around 4.5 and feel fantastic about it!

Anyway, we got all signed up and trained our bodies.  I knew I wanted to complete the Mini without walking.  I tried to tell myself that I’d be okay if that didn’t happen, but I’m stubborn.  And I knew I was capable of jogging the whole thing.  If you can do 12, you can absolutely do 13.1.  Your body is totally on auto-pilot by that point anyway.

Oh, and let’s not forget the little news story that occurred because of our training.  I’m still feeling like a superstar because of that. πŸ˜‰  It helped remind me that I may not be where I’d like weight/body-wise, but my story is still pretty incredible.  And even if I have gained back 25-30 pounds, my body is still in pretty great shape!  And we have come sooooo very far from the family we were just over 3 years ago. Three cheers for transformations!

Back to the Mini.  So I mentioned this before, but I was not at all afraid that we couldn’t finish it.  By far, my biggest fear was that I’d need to pee the entire race.  Some days I’m totally fine, and some days I feel like I’m 9 months pregnant from the moment I start running.  It’s the weirdest thing.  And jogging?  It literally shakes the shit out of you.  So there was that fear too.  (TMI?) I did not want to have to stop at the portable toilets every five seconds.  That would kill both my time and mojo.

J arrive home the day before the race for his 3-week R&R and we picked up our race packets.  Excitement was running rampant and we were just pumped up the entire week.  I think that helped things because the Mini became less of a big deal – we were just happy to be together again.  (6 months apart will do that to ya!)  We didn’t really have time to stress about running.

We enjoyed the day together and then took the kidlings over to my dad’s house to spend the night.  And in our conversations about parking, my dad offered to wake up early and drive us downtown.  What?!  Woot!  That meant we didn’t have to leave as early to find a parking spot.  (We were supposed to pre-purchase one, but I forgot and the best one was over a mile away at that point.)  So then we went home to get some good sleep.

Of course that didn’t really happen. πŸ˜‰  But I think we ended up with 5ish hours by the next morning.  Thank goodness for adrenaline!

My dad showed up, and we gathered our breakfast.  No coffee for us – that would not do good things for the bathroom situation.  A friend (thanks Amber!) gave me some suggestions and I adapted them a bit.  We decided on almonds, a piece of bread, and a banana.  Oh, and we both drank some water before we left.  Then we had my dad take a few pictures for us!

My husband is a dork.  But how awesome are those shirts?!  I had to get mine altered, but I think it ended up working out great!

We piled in the Jeep and headed for downtown.  I choked down the food, but I was not the least bit hungry.  We both saved our bananas for right before go-time.  I cannot even describe the anxiousness I felt.  How would I handle the crowd?  Was the lack of sleep going to be an issue?  Would J get annoyed with my speed?  Would this be as amazing as I’d built it up to be?

And then before I knew it, we were downtown.

And I had to pee.  But luckily, my dad dropped us off just a mere block from our corral and the portable toilets.  So I quickly ran in and did my business.  And then we stood around.  There was no one in the corrals really.  I think at that point it was 6:30, and we were supposed to be in place by 6:45. But no one else seemed all that concerned.

We decided to eat our bananas, but again – I couldn’t eat much and threw half of it away.  And then we headed into corral V to wait.  Pretty much by ourselves.

So what’s a girl to do?  Why, take a photo for Facebook of course!

And then we waited some more.  But then the corral started to fill up and I did lots of people watching. There was a family just ahead of us – a mom, dad, and teenaged daughter and son.  I remember thinking that we need to make that a goal of ours.  One day, I hope our kids will want to do this with us.  I really can’t think of anything more spectacular.  Can you?  I’m pretty persuasive so I’m thinking it will happen.

After a lot of standing around, I realized I had to pee again.  And while the corral was nearly packed at that point, there were still many people lingering around outside.  So after waiting way too long, I decided to wade through the crowd and hit the toilets one more time before the race started.

Bad news: the lines were about 50 people deep.  Crap.  I had to hold it and pray for one early in the race.  Or take the chance and wait – but then I’d have to find J as the crowd moved toward the starting line.

I was not about to lose him so I turned around and went back.  And ya know?  People aren’t as cheerful with you when you’re moving forward in the crowd.  But they got over it.

I found J again and we chatted with the people around us while we inched our way forward as we all packed together.  We listened during the Star Spangled Banner and got excited when the 5K people started.  And then when it was the actual start of the Mini, it was fairly anticlimactic.  I mean, you’re so far back that you know it’s going to be half an hour before you get going.

We spent our time throwing beach balls into the air.  I got knocked in the head a few times – once right in the face by my own husband.  Thanks J.  But we had fun.  And I learned quickly that although I don’t love crowds, I wasn’t bothered in the least.  It was kind of awesome to be surrounded by so many like-minded people.  We were all there to accomplish something – some of us for the first time, many others as seasoned veterans.  And it was a great feeling.

So back to the news story for a sec – we had originally hoped to do another interview at the Mini.  I didn’t want to stop mid-race, so we could only do it at the beginning or the end.  And the end wasn’t going to happen because the news coverage ended at 10:30, and we didn’t think we’d be done by then. So we were just hoping to connect before.  But that presented an issue because we were sooooo far back in corral V.  Looking back, we had many options.  We could have walked up there before entering our corral and talked to Julie Patterson (the reporter at the starting line).  We also could have slid over when we reached the starting line and waited until she was free to speak with us.  It would have been no big deal to start a few minutes later.

Unfortunately, none of this occurred to me until hours after the race was over.  Oops.  So as we were about to cross the starting line, we saw her, were actually filmed on live TV, but we didn’t stop.

Do you see us on the right hand side of the screen?  I may have taken 20 pictures of my TV trying to get this still image.  Someone hurry and get me a life.  (And yay for DVRs!)

So as you can see, we officially started around the 25 minute mark.  And we were off!

Can you believe I’ve written this much and we’re just getting to the start of the race?  Yeah, that’s kind of how I roll.

I just remember crossing that starting line and looking around to see all of the spectators cheering us on.  I knew it really would be just as amazing as I’d thought.  And we both felt fantastic and ready to kill it.

J shed his jacket fairly early (I decided to tough out the morning chill and left mine in the Jeep).  And then we saw our first pit stop.  The lines for the toilets were way too long and I didn’t want to stop this early.  But yeah, I definitely had to pee.  We also both passed up the water – we felt fine and there was no reason to make myself need to pee even more!

I wish I had some exciting things to tell you about the first half of the race, but the truth is that it was pretty uneventful.  We dodged and weaved, tried to keep a steady pace, and jogged our little hearts out. We went through many pit stops and saw lots of toilets, but at some point, I had to pee less.  And my stubbornness kicked in full force – I was going to suck it up and make it through this damn race without stopping.

We did take the water a few times, but thankfully it didn’t affect me adversely.  It just helped keep us going.  I don’t remember when we first saw the little Gu packets, but we passed those right by.  I had read that they are not a good idea if you haven’t been training with them.  And neither of us had.

We enjoyed the hell out of the music being played.  I ignored the rules and did wear my headphones.  I only used one though, so J and I could still talk.  I just needed the beat to keep me going between the bands playing.  My favorites were the young kids playing awesome music.  So cool.

Nearly halfway through, we hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I did finally stop for a minute so I could take some pictures for Aidan, my oldest son.  He is a huge racing fan so I thought he’d love that.  I even messaged them to his iPod while I jogged!

As it turns out, you can’t even read the words on that building!  Oh well – it was the thought that counts. πŸ˜‰  (We aren’t in the picture – I was just trying to capture the words!)  And here we are running on the race track.

This image is right before we crossed over the Yard of Bricks.  J bent down and touched it.  Being the total non-racing fan that I am, I just passed it right by.  Lots of people stop to kiss it like they do after the auto races.  Yuck.

Honestly, running on the track sucked.  It was the hardest part of the whole thing because it’s so hard on the knees.  I’m not sure if it’s the surface or the angle?  But whatever, it didn’t feel great.  And I was so thankful once we were done with it.  Plus, that meant we were over halfway done!

As soon as we exited the track, I saw a port-o-potty that was free.  No line at all!  I had to make a split decision – do I stop?  I didn’t feel bad but I obviously still needed to go.  But dammit, I couldn’t make myself stop moving.  Not even for 30 seconds.  So we forged on.

At some point, J’s knees/legs really started to bother him.  We had purchased a patella band to help support his knee, but it ended up being more of a problem for him than anything.  We knew this could happen – the long distance training had been killer on his knees.  But we had been hopeful.

I don’t exactly know when he started to struggle, but I believe it was somewhere around mile 10?  All I know for sure is that he said these exact words to me: “Baby, you are a beast.”  Thanks, babe, I think so too!  But I have to give it to him – he kept up with me.  I felt like the worst wife in the whole world.  I knew he needed to slow down to give his knee a break.  But I wanted so much to complete the race without walking!

The good news is that my jogging is really just fast walking to him (that he makes into a slow jog).  So he got slightly behind a few times to put less tension on his knee, but he always caught back up to me.  I still feel bad when I think back to it.  But I think in the end, we made it work and he didn’t hate me too much.

We did grab water more frequently towards the end, and J even hit the Gatorade stops twice I believe.  I was afraid to stain my shirt so I passed those right on by.

That last mile was amazing for me – not so amazing for J.  I know we both thought that he’d be the support system in the end.  He usually is when we go running.  But not this time.  He was in so much pain but he fought it.  I’ll forever be proud of him for continuing to move even though his legs were both cramped and his knee was grinding.

This picture is awkward as hell, but I remember it so vividly.  We were about to hit the final stretch and we were on the hunt for my dad, stepmom, and our kids in the crowds.  We saw the photographer and decided to kiss.

I had every emotion running through me.  I was trying to encourage J to keep going.  I was desperate to find my babies on the sidelines.  I was amazed at how great I still felt.  I couldn’t believe the 13 miles had been so freaking easy for me!  I definitely knew it was going much better than any of my training runs had gone.

But through all of that, I was doing this weird ugly cry thing.  J thought I was struggling to breathe, but it wasn’t that at all.  It’s just that every time I went to suck in air, I made a squeaking noise as I cried.

Can you see it in my face here?  Oh man.  It’s funny how you experience a euphoria while running, but that doesn’t really come close to describing all of the emotions.  It can’t.  I believe it comes in only behind giving birth and getting married.  Yeah, really.

So as we were running that last quarter of a mile, we were searching hard for our family.  I started to worry that they weren’t there!  I heard my phone beep and figured it was my dad telling us where they were, but it had been a pain to remove it from my running belt on the track.  So I simply ignored it.

Just about a 100 feet from the finish line, we finally spotted them.  We started waving wildly and I completely became overwhelmed with my emotions.  Such a great feeling.

And then just seconds later, we were past the finish line.  Together!

We did it!  
We grabbed the food that was offered in a sort of assembly line, and then we headed back to find our babies.

We got hugs from everyone and it made it all better to hear how proud everyone was of us.  My dad remembered me saying years ago that I would never be able to run.  Never.  That got him the most.  I thought I couldn’t do it but then I really could.  I can do just about anything.

And then we raced home because all of that waiting to use the restroom?  It was catching up with me! :)

But then I made the kids pose for a picture so we could show the shirts they made.

And then the rest of the day?  We laid around and did a whole lot of nothing!  Because we were tired and we hurt.  I walked funny for at least two days.
So would we do it again?  Oh yeah.  This race inspired me to go for a full marathon.  I don’t know that I need to jog 26.2 miles, but I at least want to finish one.  And J is on board too.  He struggled in the Mini, but we both believe he would have been fine if he’d been able to do a full and rigorous training schedule.  So we know that when he comes home for good, we will be able to train for a full marathon and kick its ass.  And we are totally going to do that – together!  This experience wouldn’t have been half as amazing if I hadn’t had him by my side.
If there has ever been someone who believed jogging 13.1 miles was not in her future, it was me.  And I did it.  And not only did I do it, it doesn’t even seem like that big of a deal now.  That’s how I know that I’m ready for more.  For something bigger.
This conquering obstacles thing is pretty damn awesome!  Definitely give it a go!


  1. says

    Wonderful post! I really enjoyed reading your Mini-Marathon experience. I wasn’t able to participate this year, but it’s on my to-do list for 2014!

  2. says

    I really enjoyed reading this. Congratulations and thanks for sharing! I have zero interest in running whatsoever, which is a good thing due to my genetic heart condition, πŸ˜‰ but I still think this story is totally romantic and awesome.